Need for speedtsewei | November 9, 2008
The 2008 F1 season has just concluded with Lewis Hamilton winning the championship title by the slimmest margin and what was possibly the most gripping 30 seconds of a race at the final leg at Brazil.
But the best part of this year’s GP season has got to be the first night race in Singapore. Thanks to a friend, we got free walkabout tickets for all 3 days, and I gotta say, the whole thing was pretty impressive!
On Friday Practice, we went with the intention to recce the place to find out which are the best spots to catch the action. Being poor and without seats, we had to consider vantage points and look for slow corners so that we could at least have more than one second look at passing cars.
The first thing that struck me was the atmosphere. Thanks to me not getting off work at 6, the practice session was already under way when we got there. But the moment we got out of City Hall MRT, we could already hear the cars V8 engine roaring past. I knew the race is loud but having never attended one before, the first time you hear the cars roar past, it was quite an unexpected volume. Of course, many years back it would have sounded even better (less screechy) when the cars were running on V10 engines.
The whole place was lit up so much so it was practically daylight, and for that reason I could actually capture pictures outdoors at night with my tiny digital camera. And the sheer size of the circuit – needless to say, my feet ached from just walking around.
We also rented the Kangaroo TV – a portable TV that streams the live cast, scores, statistics and also team radio. That’s how we kept up with the race without being seated in front of the big screen. In fact, some others were freeloading off us from behind us but hey, it’s ok, because they were sorely disappointed when Massa drove down the pit lane with the fuel rig still stuck in his car. harharhar. nyehnyehnyeh.
The crowd was also huge, a full turnout from the sold out tickets I’d say. And surprisingly, it wasn’t too hard to get in or out of the venue despite the large crowd, which is commendable.
A tourism winner
But it’s really more than just selling all that tickets. The idea to bring F1 to Singapore is a very smart move by the government. It’s not really just about bringing in an expensive sport. The whole event is really another way to sell/promote the country.
Unlike normal circuits, street circuits, like Monaco and now Singapore, have a different feel. Situated in the very heart of cities, street circuits have a very celebratory and almost carnival-like feel. Roads are diverted so that a race could take place, and the whole city is geared up for it. And more than anything else, it always looks good.
It’s very smart that the Marina Bay circuit passes by some of the nicest landmarks and city views on the island. Heck, the entire race was practically a Singapore Tourism ad! It looked real good on TV, but on location, it’s even better. Everything’s up close, and there’s constant pulsing activity everywhere: Street performers before the races, food vendors hawking local fare, people at Suntec or Marina Square trying to catch a glimpse into the circuit, and as the race got under way, fans and crowds packed the place full. For some other normal race circuits, e.g. Sepang, you’re better off watching at home on the TV because on location, there’s nothing to see. But on a street circuit, it’s entirely different. Which is why we’re paying for seats next year (hopefully). And that is exactly what the organisers are hoping people will be thinking next year and returning for more.
Hopes for the F1 year ahead
Of course, we all heard that hotels, especially high end ones, lost out, possibly out of confidence that they would be overbooked so they hiked their price, and NOBODY wanted to pay for that. And I noticed that despite the crowds, many locals were not actually fans who follow the race but merely went to check it out for the experience. Many did not really understand the race, and the sporting feel just wasn’t really there yet. Which is why I think Mediacorp has to get the rights to telecast F1 races next year instead of featuring only the one Singapore one.
The whole island is mad about football, yet there isn’t any truly great football teams here. People just watch the English kick the ball on the pitch all year round and they are passionate about it. Now F1 is here, but nobody knows anything about the motorsport! So definitely the awareness is lacking, but it’s something that could have the potential to become a national ‘obsession’ if only people can get to watch it on free-to-air TV! Can also learn a thing or two from this little fan here:
So hey, Ch5 or something, please pick up the programme and air it. The broadcast will change hands next year from ITV to BBC, but at least it’ll be better than listening to the tormentingly stupid commentary on StarSports every race (and I still have to pay for it!!) That guy commentates every year and still gets the facts wrong. wtf.
And of course, my not-so-secret wishes for next year’s F1 season are:
- FIA to stop being the running dog of Ferrari and jumping on every little thing the McLaren team does and siding with Ferrari all the freaking time.
- Kimi to kick Massa’s ass and show him who’s the real pro.
- Renault to improve their car so that Alonso can have a proper comeback, kick Massa to the back and we can watch the big players race
- More exciting performances from Lewis
- Kovy to do better next year in McLaren
- For us to save enough money to splash on seated grandstand tickets for the SG race. :p
Take a look at the sights around the SG F1 circuit: go to Gallery, and click on the album Singapore F1 Grand Prix 2008. There’re not many pictures of the cars since they’re all a blur, but there’re some interesting sights, and of course, hot babes.
If this picture doesn’t make you feel like wanting to click and view the album, then I don’t know what will. LOL!